What should I do if I witness a crime?
If you witness a crime in Ireland you should report it to the Gardaí
This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children's Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.
If you see a crime taking place you should report it to the Gardaí. For some serious offences, like a sexual offence against another child or a vulnerable adult, it is a crime not to tell the Gardaí what you know.
Should I tell the Gardaí if I have seen a crime take place?
The alleged criminals will not necessarily be told who reported the crime. However, if a young person provides a formal written statement of complaint to Gardaí and the Director of Public Prosecutions decides the case should proceed to trial, that statement will be shared with the accused before the trial. Anyone accused of a crime has a right to hear the evidence against them, and so they will be able to see and hear what you say to the court.
Is there support available to me if I am a witness to a crime?
Yes, there are a number of supports available to you like:
- The Court Support Service: 01-872 6785 or 087 288 552
- Childline: 1800 66 66 66
- Crime Victims Helpline: Freephone 116006 or text 085 1337711
Will I have to go to court if I am a witness to a crime?
You might. It depends on what you saw or heard and whether or not the State wants you to be a witness in the case. If you are asked to tell the court what you saw, you can avoid being in the same room as the accused person. You may be able to do this by giving your evidence during the trial:
from behind a screen, or
by a live video link from a different room in the courthouse
Need more information?
We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.